The Many Faces of Harry Potter 38

“The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 38”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Thirty-eight: I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for the bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. But some canon scenes are just too good to change much.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Adira, Zoey, # Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and between hashtags/pound signs.# , {Tier}, ~Chandra,~
% Mother AKA Avani Maznah, % and “Hypatia/Megan.”

Note 4: All hail Our Lady Of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling!

Note 5: Because of the heaviness of the last couple chapters, here's a fun one I've been wanting to do for a long time now: a chapter centered pretty much entirely around Zoey Potter, and her hi-jinks! It doesn't start out with her, but it will get there soon enough and most of it will be centered around her.

*FAYANORA*

On the way back to school after the holidays, Alastair managed to have a conversation with Hypatia that didn't end in howlers or someone storming off. It started when he directed a thought at her about the rituals mentioned in Chandra's telling of her story.

See what I don't get is, well, take that one where you get pain in your arms to take someone's magic away for a time. Why don't we just do that to Moldyshorts and kill him while he's powerless?

There was a great, big, long-suffering sigh that came out of their shared mouth.

(Okay, I'll try to use small words so you understand. First of all, even minor rituals have risks. It's not always a case of having the arithmancy right. Sometimes things just happen to screw rituals up. Let's take a small example: let's say you do a ritual for slightly enhanced senses. Right, so even little rituals require some kind of words at the very least. Some you can do in your head, others you have to say aloud. Let's imagine you say the word slightly wrong or sneeze at the wrong time and suddenly either you go blind or you're overwhelmed by ridiculously powerful senses and feel like you're dying.

(Then you get into the higher level rituals, and those often require stuff like symbols written on the floor, or carved into your arm, or they require other ingredients like the eyeball of a virgin goat or something. Or tears of a mermaid, occamy blood, or whatnot. Some of those things are not easy to get, and a lot of those rituals that call for those things take some time to do, enough time that your enemy can either hex you while you're setting things up or you have to do them far away from the target. And other rituals can only be done on certain days, like during a total solar eclipse, for an example.

(Then too, there's a connection component. Some small rituals just require eye contact with the victim, but larger ones usually require stuff like body parts of the victim. The 'pain in your arms to take away someone's magic' one requires fresh blood of the victim. Hair won't work, hair is dead. Magic is life, so you need a symbol of their life like their blood. It would be kinda hard to get Voldemort's blood.

(Of course, there are area-effect rituals, but those are dangerous in their own ways. Like, for instance, the fact they don't discriminate and you can't really just pick and choose who in the area is affected. Plus they're extremely unstable and the consequences tend to be deadly if they go wrong. This kind of thing is why ritual magic is considered a Dark Art.

(And then of course, for someone sufficiently powerful, they can just block the ritual if they know it's coming. Most people couldn't, but someone like Dumbledore or a full-powered Voldemort could probably do it. And that ritual you mentioned is definitely one of those 'they will see it coming' ones. Among other things, in the last minute or two of the ritual, they'll be able to feel it no matter where in the country they are. Even if they couldn't, if you were, say, in a duel with them and managed to find cover to do the ritual, if they saw you or heard the chanting or had a sneaking suspicion, that wouldn't be good for you. Of course, some rituals can be started ahead of time to make them more battle-ready, but that has its issues too.

(More importantly, the kind of pain we're talking about in that spell is along the lines of the cruciatus curse. Kinda hard to kill someone when you can't use your wand or your arms. And just like the cruciatus curse, it tends to have lingering side effects like nerve damage.)

Yes, but we could do the ritual and have an Auror kill Voldemort while he's powerless.

(Even assuming you caught him without his Death Eaters around to help him, even assuming you could get the blood or whatever and had cover to do the ritual, even assuming all appears to go well and you get the ritual out somehow and he doesn't block it, there's still a better than 50% chance of the ritual going horribly wrong and maybe killing someone or something like that. So this is all largely academic for me so far. Sure, some of these little rituals have proven useful, but even with my skills at maths, the heavier-duty rituals are extremely dangerous. Like, I don't know what rituals Voldemort used to make his horcruxes, but my guess is that if he ever comes back, he's gonna look like the offspring of Uncle Fester and a snake (that then died for an hour and was brought back), and given he's working with fragments of his soul, which he's done who knows how many times, I wouldn't be surprised if there's enough accumulated ritual backlash where he's going to be a lot more emotionally unstable than he was prior to his horcruxes, and the emotions he has are likely going to be incredibly intense. Also it's likely his ability to reason will be affected as well.

(The danger of ritual backlash is, incidentally, the bulk of the reason I've been working on my sacrifice array. Sure, the array lends it a bit more instability in the sense that a failure is more likely, but it cuts out much more risk than it adds so that the failure mode isn't as bad, and has the added benefit – to us – of being something the majority of people can't do without the help of a computer.

(One last point: Please note the fact that Voldemort, a power-mad serial killer who thinks he's the greatest wizard since Merlin, rarely ever seemed to use ritual magic when he was strong. Sure, he had to use them for the horcruxes, but mostly he uses his wand. Because he knows, on some level, that it's risky and he only wants to risk it for really special things.)

If it's so risky, why do you use it as much as you have?

(Because those are tiny little things, with very little risk, and anyway I only use ritual magic for stuff that I can't use a wand for. With the exception of experiments, of course.)

Ah. Okay. I think I understand now.

(Good. Now buzz off.)

~

Their first week back at school after Easter went much like normal, alternating forms among the days and doing schoolwork. Of course, in the quiet moments, they thought about Hypatia. They'd told Ron and Hermione they'd been mistaken about the sleepwalker, that they'd just been imagining things. Neither of them seemed very convinced, but they at least got the message that they didn't want to talk about it, and honored that desire.

On Friday at dinner, Luna came over and stood beside Iliana, wringing her hands and looking conflicted about something.

“What is it, Luna?” Iliana asked.

Luna opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. So she signed instead. Luckily, she'd taught Tier the wizarding sign language.

{'More of my things have gone missing. I didn't want to bother you about it but one of the things that went missing is my butterbeer cork necklace,'} Tier translated. {'I need that necklace. It keeps the nargles away.'}

The amount of anxiety coming off Luna in waves when she related this problem was so high that Iliana was getting a headache from it.

“We find your necklace, Luna,” Tier signed with the sign language interpreter device switched on. “We feel it important to you. We find it now. Where you last see necklace?”

She signed frantically, her anxiety increasing, and Tier translated. {'Took it off before shower. Forgot to put it in trunk. I keep forgetting to put things in trunk, so they keep going missing. I need the necklace. I need it.'}

“We find it, Luna,” Tier replied.

“Come here, Luna. Sit down,” Iliana said. She didn't know why the necklace was that important to Luna, but she didn't need to know; it was, and that's what mattered. She was so upset she wasn't able to talk, even. Which is something she recognized; it happened to Javier at times.

Luna sat down next to Iliana and leaned into her, her eyes watering. Luna started touching the wood of the table, stroking it, but stopped soon, as it seemed to make her worse.

“Okay, now I have to ask; what's so important about this necklace? Why can't you make another one?”

Luna started signing while shaking so badly that Iliana had to stroke Luna's cheek to get her to calm down enough to be understood when she signed.

{'Loud. So loud. People loud. So many. So many feelings. So much noise. Nargles make noise worse. Necklace drives nargles away, makes noise less.'}

Iliana had a hypothesis and decided to take the risk of testing it.

“Dobby!”

The little elf appeared behind Iliana, the sudden loud CRACK making Luna start to really lose control. She was putting in a visibly strong effort to keep herself under control, but Iliana could feel the control slipping.

“Please bring us a couple used butterbeer corks, just the corks. As soon as possible.”

“Yes, Iliana!” Dobby said, disapparating again. Luna's control slipped further, and she was digging her face into Iliana's shoulder to hide the tears. While she did that, Iliana used her wand to cast a silencing charm on Luna's ears to keep some of the noise out.

“NO! STOP!” Luna shouted, and Iliana took down the spell.

“What's the matter?”

“Not that noise. Not that noise. Not that noise.”

I suspect the calm energy we normally associate with Luna is a coping mechanism of some sort. Some of the things she's saying... I think she's an empath, too. It would explain why she knew about empaths already when we met her, Al said in their head.

“It's okay. What do you need?”

“Not that noise. Not that noise. Not that noise.”

“Ron, would you go ask McGonagall if you can use her fire to fire-call Luna's father for help? Hermione, go see if Flitwick knows about anything that can help.”

Her two friends nodded and hustled out of the room fast as they could. She looked over to the Slytherin table, ignoring Malfoy and his cronies making fun of Luna, and found Javier. He was looking at Draco with a glare on his face. To get his attention, she used wandless magic to pull on his robes. It wasn't easy without use of her hands, but she managed it enough that he turned around and spotted her. She gestured at Luna and then him with her head. Nodding, he got up and came over.

“What's the matter?” Javier asked.

“I don't know. She came over, tried speaking, had to sign instead. Told us her butterbeer cork necklace was missing, then she started freaking out. She's repeating the same three words over and over again now: 'not that noise.'”

“What else did she say?”

Iliana related Luna's message to Javier. When she was done, he nodded. “The necklace must be a stim. Probably helps her cope. You were right to--”

CRACK!

Luna burst into loud tears and Dobby looked concerned. Javier was on the ground, his hat over his eyes and tangled in his own robes.

“Corks please, Dobby!”

“Oh! Yes! Here you is, Miss.”

She took the corks from Dobby and pressed them into Luna's hands. “They're not your necklace, but maybe they'll help until we can find it?”

They did. She stopped crying, just as Dumbledore came over. Iliana looked up in surprise at him.

“Perhaps you should take Miss Lovegood somewhere quiet, away from people? That will probably help more than the corks,” he said.

“Um. Yeah, great idea. Except I don't know how to get her to move.”

He smiled and his eyes twinkled at her. “Don't you? I seem to recall Professor McGonagall told me of a charm you two used recently that might help. I will tell Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger where you've gone.”

“But where do I take her?”

“I suggest a certain room on the 7th floor, across from a certain tapestry.”

“You know about that, then?”

“Yes. Now hurry, before she gets worse.”

“Right.”

Iliana cast a Featherlight Charm on Luna, and picked her up like she weighed nothing, leaving the Great Hall as fast as she dared. She took every shortcut she knew through the school to get them to the Room of Requirement quickly as she could.

# I need a place where a possibly autistic empath can calm down, # she thought three times as she walked past the place where the Room was.

On the third time past, she looked, and a door had appeared. She approached the door and it opened on its own, swinging inward, then closing once they were inside. Inside the room were loads of huge squishy pillow-like poufs, low and soft lighting, and piles of what looked like unusual little hand-held toys in boxes. Iliana set Luna down on the nearest pouf and canceled the Featherlight Charm.

As soon as she lay Luna down, a magical phonograph player appeared beside her and started playing odd music. It was light and airy and sounded like magic, and a woman started singing about fairies, but it sounded more like the Muggle idea of fairies than the wizarding idea of them.

After several minutes, Luna sat up slowly and pulled a box of the odd toys toward her. She started picking through them but didn't seem to care for any of them. When she pushed the box aside, a lap harp appeared, as well as a set of ten little bits of metal that looked like they'd fit on the ends of someone's fingers. Smiling, Luna put the harp in her lap, put the bits of metal on the ends of her fingers, and started to play it. It turned out the metal bits were finger picks for the harp's strings. The harp music fit in so well with the music the phonograph was playing that it couldn't have been a coincidence.

Iliana sat there, enraptured by the music, for how long she didn't know, but Ron and Hermione came in at last and handed Iliana a list that Xenophilius had given them, of things that would help Luna. But Luna looked to be recovering with the help of the Room of Requirement.

When she stopped playing the harp and set it down, turning off the phonograph player, she smiled.

“Thank you for your help, Iliana. I feel much better now. And thank you for the butterbeer corks. They'll help me until you can find my necklace.” She sighed. “I don't know what I was thinking, taking it off. The corks are waterproof. A wrackspurt must have flown into my ear.”

“You're welcome, Luna. You helped me when I had my breakdown, and even if you hadn't, I'd still do this for you.”

“Wait, you had a breakdown?” Ron asked. “When was this?”

Looking to Luna for permission first in case it might set Luna off, when Luna smiled and nodded, she turned back to the two of them and told them about spotting the Dursleys over the Easter holidays. They reacted pretty much as she'd expected them to: Ron cursing and offering lame condolences before getting awkward, Hermione very shocked and teary, touching Iliana's shoulder in solidarity.

The four of them talked, and they found out from Luna that her father had known for some time that she was very strange, moreso even than Xeno could cope with without help, and had taken her to St. Mungo's to find out what it could be. They had been flummoxed, but one young man, a Healer Young, had referred them to a Muggle psychiatrist, where she'd gotten a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. So had her father, in fact.

“So two of the people in your body are dating people with this Asperger's thing? Odd sort of coincidence, that.”

“Maybe not so much. Being a collective, we're not exactly a standard-issue brain type ourselves. Perhaps we're just drawn to other unusual minds.”

“Yes, that makes sense,” Luna said. “Of course, I have also been wondering about Chandra. I think he might be like me. He might have Asperger's Syndrome. Others have pointed out similarities between the two of us. He talks strangely, he thinks strangely, he behaves strangely. You'd know better than I, of course. But it's something to ponder.”

“That's a fair point. He and Hy--- er, yeah, he might have that, it makes sense.”

Hermione was looking at her with a very suspicious look on her face. The slip-up had not gone unnoticed. Iliana heard cursing in the back of her mind.

After hanging out for another hour, they went back to their own common rooms for the night.

~

Zoey was the one Out the next day, and after last night – and seeing Luna over at the Ravenclaw table looking more stressed than usual – she decided she needed to find Luna's missing stuff. So after breakfast, she ran off and headed for Ravenclaw tower.

On the way, though, she nearly ran into Peeves, and had to duck out of the way. She ended up slightly not where she was supposed to be, near the Room of Requirement. It was only then that she realized she wasn't really sure yet what to do. Taking advantage of her location, she thought about the problem as she walked past the Room three times.

When the door appeared, she opened it up, expecting to find all of Luna's missing things right there in a neat pile, only...

“WOAH!”

The room she'd entered was enormous. It was bigger than the Great Hall, probably twice as big if not bigger. And it was littered, over the entire floor except for some paths cleared in the mess, with all sorts of junk. Along with old and mostly broken furniture, there were piles of old books, teetering towers of contraband like dead or dying Fanged Frisbees and so on, as well as cauldrons full of the remains of ruined potions, and all sorts of other junk.

“COOL! This place is full of neat stuff!”

She ran ahead, determined to dig through everything, but several of the others froze her in mid-step, warning her that it was potentially dangerous in here. There was no knowing what kinds of dark and/or dangerous items were in here. They tried to get her to leave, but she refused.

Knowing She couldn't get Zoey to budge, Avani – Mother – instead took control of her wand arm, got out the holly wand, and carefully cast a spell.

Expecto patronum!”

A bright silver fox burst out of the wand, only it wasn't a normal fox: it was twice the size of a normal fox, and it had three tails. Avani gave it a message to bring Professor McGonagall, and it sped off.

A few minutes later, a confused McGonagall came in and stared in awe at the room.

“Where... where are we, Miss Potter?”

“Room of Requirement. It becomes whatever someone needs if they think about what they need while walking three times past the blank wall that the entrance appears in. But this is a... a specific sub-room of the Room of Requirement. Hmm... I think I'm gonna call it The Room of Lost Things.”

“Whoever sent the patronus was right to send for me, this room is full of dangerous items. You should not be here. We need to bring in some aurors.”

“Do you really think that's wise with Tom The Riddler trying to come back? Who knows what kinda stuff he could use from here.”

“I doubt they'd be selling anything dangerous, Miss Potter. How did you find this place, anyway?”

She explained how she'd gotten in as succinctly as possible.

“Well, if it's gone undiscovered all this time, I don't see how it could hurt to leave it. We'll keep a discreet eye on the place, Miss Potter. But we should probably leave now. And you are not to go back into the Room of Lost Things, understood?”

“Yes, Professor.”

She pulled Zoey along, and the young girl looked very disappointed at not being able to explore such a fascinating place, but didn't fight it. She waved sadly at the door when it turned back into a wall.

“Whose patronus was that, anyway? I don't recall ever seeing it before.”

“It was Mother's patronus. That was the first any of us have seen of it.”

“Well it's fascinating. There are now two of you– well, I suppose three, actually – with magical creatures for patronuses, in that case.”

“Three?”

“Yes. One of you had a three-headed snake for a patronus, that's a magical creature called a Runespoor.”

“That's Al's!”

“I see. Then there's that peculiar dragon of Iliana's. And now this Mother has a kitsune for a patronus.”

Zoey looked confused. “What's a kit-soon-eh?”

“A kitsune is a Japanese magical creature. Well, it's a bit confusing, really, whether they're creatures or beings, because most of them are very intelligent three-tailed foxes, but then some of them become so powerful that they become humanoid. The more tails a kitsune has, the more powerful they are. The most that's been confirmed to be seen is a seven-tailed kitsune, who by that point looked like a beautiful human woman except for her tails and fox ears, and she was a powerful Lady in control of an entire... province? Prefecture? I'm not sure what the term was back then, but she was Lady of a castle, several large towns, and many villages before the European invaders started coming in. Regrettably, several wizards were among them, and killed her, after several months of waging war on her. The final battle was six powerful wizards versus the one seven-tailed kitsune, and it took them five hours to bring her down.

“Anyway... there have also been rumors for centuries of kitsune with nine tails. I shudder to think how much of a fight one of those would give people. I sincerely hope I never have to find out. But you need to run along now, Miss Potter. Don't go back to that room.”

“I won't. I actually had other plans before getting sidetracked. But now I'm back on track.”

McGonagall looked like she was trying to decide if she wanted to know what Zoey's plans were or not. She finally decided she didn't want to know, and shooed the girl away.

Zoey took some time to wander around trying to throw McGonagall or anyone else who might be watching off the scent, but not too obviously, for she really didn't plan to go back there. As strong as the temptation to dig through all that stuff had been, it was mostly gone now that she wasn't looking right at the thing.

No, she had other plans, and as a result ended up outside the Ravenclaw dorm entrance.

The door knocker said, “I have no substance and yet I can kill, I am nowhere but everywhere; swim in my expanse unprotected and you'll freeze to death while your body burns. Take refuge in a container you can live in, and your might cook to death from your own body heat. What am I?”

“Outer space. Or the void, whatever wizards call it.”

“Correct,” the knocker responded, and opened the door.

Zoey Disillusioned herself, walking invisible into the room. Being a weekend, most students were outside or in the library, and the common room had only two Ravenclaws in it, on opposite sides of the room. Zoey sneaked by them both and went up to the girl's dormitories into Luna's room. Using her wand, she used Accio to summon Luna's things from a list she'd written down. One by one, most of them came to her and she set them down on Luna's bed, except for the butterbeer cork necklace, which she put around her neck after Disillusioning it first. A couple things she summoned were locked and couldn't get out, so she hunted them down and liberated them from the trunks of the bullies, leaving behind a surprise: dungbombs bewitched to go off when the bullies opened their trunks again.

Then she took advantage of the fact she was one of the only people who could get into Luna's trunk, and opened it, taking everything out. She then cast anti-theft charms on all of Luna's stuff (which would make it so anyone but Luna or the Potters touching those things would shock the would-be thief bad enough to knock them over but not seriously injure them), putting everything back in the trunk and making sure it was locked. She could tell Luna about this later when she found her to return the butterbeer cork necklace.

Then she used another nifty spell she'd read recently to find who had stolen the objects on the list of things she'd summoned, and left the same bewitched dungbombs in their trunks as well; except she didn't do that to the bullies in Luna's dorm, in case the stink upset Luna. She'd thought about doing something else instead to them, but in the end decided not to. Instead, she went into some other dorms – boys' as well as girls' – and put more dungbombs in, to make it look more like a random dungbomb attack, a prank with no real pattern to it. She didn't want anyone to think Luna had done it. But if she found they were thinking that anyway, she'd confess she had done it.

She spent the next few hours searching the castle and then the grounds for Luna. She wasn't in the Great Hall, or at Hagrid's, or in the greenhouses, or the library, or anywhere else she could think of to look. Finally, she got the Marauder's Map out and searched it, but in the confusing mass she couldn't find her there either.

Annoyed, she put her wand on the Map and said, “Show me Luna Lovegood.”

Three concentric circles moved from part of the Map like ripples on a pond, moving out and then back in again, pointing out Luna. She was in the Forbidden Forest. Javier was with her for some reason.

“Figgers,” Zoey said, clearing the Map and putting it in her pocket. “Note to self: get one of those sets of mirror thingies for Luna and us.”

Disillusioning herself again, she sneaked out of the castle and into the Forbidden Forest. It didn't take her long to find Luna and Javier, they were in a small clearing in the forest feeding chunks of meat to thestrals. Javier looked a bit freaked out, but Luna looked serene.

Undoing the Disillusionment Charm, Zoey said, “Boo!”

Javier jumped, dropping the meat he'd been feeding the thestral fawn. It reached its head down and began eating the dropped meat, and Javier pulled away, washing his hand with his wand.

“You startled me, er... who are you?”

“Zoey Potter.”

“Oh yes, right. Well you startled me, and you shouldn't startle people who are feeding invisible creatures that eat meat.”

“So you can't see 'em?”

“No. You can?”

“Iliana killed Professor Quirrell in our first year. He up and died right in front of us. So yeah, we can see 'em. Can I help feed the bony horsies?”

“Sure, you can have what's left of the meat Luna gave me. She's... off in her own world right now.”

“I can still hear you, though,” Luna said. “Welcome, Zoey. I see you found the necklace that went missing.”

“Yeah, I found the rest of your stuff, too. It's all back in your trunk, with anti-theft charms on it all in case you forget to put anything back again.”

“Thank you. That should deter most of the thieves.”

“Only 'most' of them?” Zoey said, picking up some of the meat and feeding another fawn.

“Well yes, some of the more determined thieves might be thwarted once by that ploy, but they'll not be caught by the same trick twice. They'll remove the charm the second time.”

“If they do that, I'll find them and turn them into turtles.”

“I'd rather you didn't do that. Just bringing me my lost things will suffice.”

Zoey didn't know what to say, so she made an indistinct noise instead.

“Do you ever fly them, Luna? The thestrals, I mean,” Zoey said.

“Oh no, I haven't yet. Hagrid only lets me feed them.”

“Where is Hagrid? If he's letting you feed the thestrals, shouldn't he be here with you?”

“He went to talk with the centaurs about something,” Javier said.

Zoey nodded. “And why're you here, Javier?”

He shrugged. “Luna and I are friends. Have been for a while now. Now I have two friends, instead of just one.”

“But we're a collective, loads of different people.”

“Yes, I know that. But I'm only really friends with Alastair and Luna. Adira and I have something of an awkward acquaintance with each other at best, I don't know Iliana worth a darn, I've only just met you, and I don't really know any of the others. From the sound of things, I think Chandra and I would get along with each other, but I haven't really met him yet.”

“I'll make sure to have him introduce himself, then.”

Javier smiled. “I'd like that.”

When all the meat was gone, they continued to pet the thestrals, but most of them started wandering off before long, leaving the three humans alone just in time for Hagrid to return.

“Ah, yeh lot all done then? Oh, hi there Zoey.”

“Hello Hagrid!” Zoey said, waving. She suppressed the urge to run at him and hug him, since he was carrying his crossbow.

“Well, if the thestrals are scarperin', best get on outta the forest now.”

The three of them followed him as he left the forest and into his hut. He un-loaded his crossbow and put it back in place.

“Care fer a cuppa?”

“Sounds lovely, Hagrid,” Luna said.

“Do you have any herbal tea, Hagrid?” Javier asked. “I'm feeling a little jittery. Need something to soothe my nerves.”

“Ya, I got some chamomille and lavender herbal tea. It's in teabags, though.”

“That's fine. I prefer teabags anyway. I can't stand the little bits floating around.”

“You and Al both,” Zoey said. “Oh, here's your necklace, Luna.”

She handed Luna the butterbeer cork necklace. Luna held it in one hand a few minutes and closed her eyes, holding the other hand above it, palm down, while Hagrid made the tea. The necklace started to glow orange.

“Whatcha doin'?” Zoey asked curiously.

“I reckon she's cleansing its energy. No telling where it's been before you had it.”

“Huh? What's that mean?”

“Oh, it might have some bad energy on it from the person who took it. She can't let that energy stay there. It's an empath thing, I think.”

“That's something you can do? Neat. I don't think we've ever tried that. I wonder if we could learn. Might help Chandra with his eating problem.”

“Eatin' problem?” Hagrid asked, settling into his seat. “Whadda yeh mean?”

“He can't eat meat, because he can feel the animal's suffering.”

“Oh.”

Luna finally opened her eyes, putting on the necklace (which had stopped glowing) and stroking the corks with her fingers. “That won't work, probably,” Luna said. “It sounds like Chandra has psychometry or something like it as well as being an empath, and that's not going to be affected by a cleansing. Even though he's sensing the feelings of the animal, if the cutting up and cooking didn't get rid of what he's sensing, then a cleansing isn't going to do anything.”

“Why's that?”

Luna grabbed one of the corks and put it against her lips as she thought for a few moments.

“Well...” she said at last, “think of it like this: if you had a piece of wood, all smoothed and lacquered, and spilled some cream sauce on it, you could clean the wood with a spell or by wiping it clean. But if you tried the same cleaning spell to try to get rid of a worm that was living in the wood, it wouldn't work. For one thing, the spell wouldn't work on a living creature that was on the surface of the wood unless it was too small to see with the naked eye. Not even sure it works then, or just disperses such creatures into the air. But a worm wouldn't be affected by the cleaning spell, except maybe to make the worm itself a little cleaner. And it sure wouldn't work on any filth under the surface of the wood.”

“Oh. So cleansing doesn't go deep enough?”

“That's part of it. It's also an imperfect metaphor, because I think what Chandra's sensing is the meat's memory from when it was alive, which is part of the meat's essence, the same way your memories are part of what makes you who you are. I don't know of anything that can get rid of those memories without Vanishing the object as a side-effect.”

“Ah, I see.”

The conversation about cleansing was over with now, though.

“How's yer herbal tea, Javier?” Hagrid asked.

“It's excellent. Could use a little honey, though.”

“BLECK!” Zoey said, pulling a face. “Honey with lavender? BARF! Gag me with a spoon!”

“This coming from the girl who, if rumor is true, once ate – and enjoyed – a truly disgusting sandwich made of French toast, cinnamon toast, eggs, sausage, kippers, ketchup, and jam.”

“So what? That doesn't mean I can't still find something yucky. Honey and lavender tea is icky, as is any kind of tea after eating peppermint, but especially black tea. Or peppermint flavored black tea.”

Javier defiantly put a spoon of honey in his tea while staring at Zoey's forehead, stirred, and sipped it with delight while Zoey pulled funny faces and mimed puking over the side of the table, complete with very realistic upchuck noises that made Luna and Hagrid both look a little green, but which merely made Javier's eye twitch.

Since that tactic wasn't working, she tried another one. “Honey's made of bee vomit, you know. They drink nectar and puke it up and it becomes honey.”

“That's nice,” Javier said, largely ignoring her.

“And... and... and Muggles love vanilla so much they made real vanilla very expensive and now they have artificial vanilla flavor, but really it's made from a beaver's anal gland!”

Luna set her tea down. “Hagrid, do you have any food-grade peppermint oil?”

“Ya. Yeh want some?”

“Yes please. In the meantime, I have a naughty little girl to punish.”

She leaped out of her seat and grabbed Zoey, who struggled. Luna wrestled her to the ground and tickled her mercilessly, her shrieks of laughter filling the small hut and then becoming wheezes as she couldn't breathe, which is when Luna stopped.

“Adequate punishment, I think. What do you think, Javier?”

Javier nodded. “I agree.”

~

That afternoon, bored, Zoey wrote a letter:

Dear Sirius,

Hi! It's me! ZOEY! Meep meep, vroom vroom vroom!

So I had an intrestin day, I did I did I did. So some meanie nasty poopy doody heads stole some of Luna's things when she forgot ta put em back, and she was very upset at dinner cuz one of em was her butterbeer cork necklace, which she needs to touch when she's stressed, and she gets stressed a lot cuz she's an empath too and not just a calm place for empaths to get lost in. We think that's a side effect of her coping mechanismisms.

Sooooo natch I had ta find her things and take steps to stop more thefty-wefties. I was on my way to do that when I realized I didn't have a good plan and so I had the silly notion to use the Room of Requirement but it showed me this huge room fulla centuries of junk we're gonna havta go through later with aurors and whatnot but we're leavin it be for now, McGonagall said. (Speaking of McGonagall, does she ever patrol as a kitty? I kinda wanna find her as a kitty, grab her in a hug while shouting “KITTY!” Of course she might scratch me I guess so maybe I won't do that after all. But it's fun ta think about, right?)

Anyway so then I went to the Ravenclaw dorms and found all her missing things, put Anti-Theft Charms on them all (and the resta the stuff in her trunk) and put it all back except I took her the necklace she needed. Took me a hecka long time ta find her, too. Had ta ask the Map, and found a function I hadn't knowed about: the ripply circly thingies, I hope you know what I mean. So I found her that way and she was feeding thestrals in the Forbidden Forest with Javier, only don't report them because Hagrid was in the area and knew they were there, so they had permission.

I helped feed they bony horsies too, including a wee little bebe fawny-wawny SOOOOOO 'dordable! You should see 'em! I dunno, can you see thestrals? Actually I hope you can't cuz that would be sad and bad and I'd have to cry and hug you but you're not here to hug so then I'd have to jump through the Floo to you, and McGonagall would have kittens only not literally unless... can animagi have kittens or other babies with animals? Wait never mind that's icky I hope nobody's ever tried that but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Though I 'spose they could make babies with other animagi in their animagi form but then that's kinda icky too in a way but not as much, but can you imagine two goat animagi having kids together and OH MY GOODNESS ME McGonagall was married once, did she ever have kids? Not goat ones obviously but yanno. I hope she had grand-babies too.

Oh wait I got off topic. What was I talkin bout? Oh yeah I got Luna's stuff back and then I put a bunch of dungbombs in the trunks of the bullies and a few other people to make it look like a random prank. I hope they don't blame Luna for it, that would be bad.

Almost forgot to mention I'm using a dicta-quill for this, otherwise my hand would get all crampy from all this writing. You probly guessed that though with all the ramblyness and wandering about everywhere. Took some doing to get it to write in my style rather than spelling everythin the right way, how boring is that?

OH MY GOODNESS does McGonagall ever get hairballs? HA! Now I'm imagining her hacking up a hairball in her classroom. I wonder if she ever has nightmares about doing that in front of a class? Oh and are animagi naked when they're animals? I mean I never looked in certain places, that would be very rude, but it's kinda weird if you're naked even though animals are naked but I guess it'd be a bit of a giveaway if your animagus form had a doggie sweater and OH MY GOODNESS now I know what I'm getting you for your birthday! When is your birthday anyway? I need to know! My birfday parties for people are getting famous! Or infamous. Depends on your point of view I 'spose.

PLEASE TELL ME YOU DON'T HUMP THE FURNITURE! Wait never mind, don't tell me. I don't wanna think about it.

Animagus thing ain't been goin good for us. You'd think it'd be easy but something is blocking us and we can't figger it out. Maybe with a certain librarian goddess's help we can figure it out? Of course she's been a meanie nasty poopy face who yells a lot so maybe I'd have more luck squeezing coal into diamonds, though she did explain some thingies to Al about ritual magic so maybe her head's slipping outta her bum. Luna says diamonds are bad cuz they amplify empathic energy like a LOT. Both the good and the bad. Also they're kinda boring, just looks like cut glass to us. I'd rather have colorful things like jade or emeralds or peacock ore or opals!

We haven't flown the thestrals yet, Hagrid ain't let us yet. :(

Like my sad smiley face? I had ta draw that myself cuz the quill was just like “Huh? Wha?” and maybe I should find a way to do smileys with it but that's a lot of work and I'm all about fun for the rest of the day. But if I do figger it out I can send like a million different smileys!

Know any good spells to use on Peeves? I think it'd be fun to drive him bonkers, watch the chaos that results. It'd be entertaining. Bet you're picturing me steepling my fingers with an evil grin on my face going “MWAH HA HA HA HA! My evil plan has come to fruition!” Speaking of fruit, I like raspberries. You should get me a raspberry plant so I can put it in my window and have raspberries ALL THE TIME!!! (HA! Al just said, “Like you need the sugar, demon child!”)

Iliana had a dream last night about riding around on your motorbike like a badass. Black leather jacket with fringe, a red bandanna on her head, sunglasses, and spiky boots. She looked like she was in a biker gang. Only the motorbike in the dream didn't have a sidecar.

Oh and if you could tell me how to lock Snape out of his office in a way so the password is somethin like “I, Severus Snape, love to cuddle my pink teddy bear when I has a sad” or something like that, let me know. I'd do it myself but I don't know how and a certain mathy librarian nearly broke my eardrums screaming at me when I asked her how to do it.

Well I'm outta stuff to talk about now. Gonna go see if I can find somethin else to do fun around here, like maybe I can replace all Dumbledore's shampoo with hair-removal potion or turn Flitwick's funny white hair and beard into something ugly like a Hitler 'stache. Naw, that's too mean; I'll turn it pink instead. Should be easy, if I can find where he sleeps. If you have any ideas for pranks, let me know!

Hope you find a girlfriend or boyfriend! Or both! Or some non-gendered romantic partner! (Hey, is Remus into guys? You two seem to hang out together a lot, even for friends. Hmm... doggie and wolfie, howling at the moon, may-be lat-er They. Can. Spoon! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Siri with the puppy carriage!)

XOXO
---Zoey Potter

PS = Give Remus my love. :)

PPS = I'm starstruck, simply over the moon, about the thought of you and Remus shacking up. :D (Not that I'm thinkin bout it too hard, cuz ICKY SEX THINGS! EWWW NO! PUUUKE! Just that it would be cute to see you two being kissy and huggy with each other.)

PPPS = No seriously, you two should date if you're both into it. You'd be so cute together!

PPPPS = Luna-wuna helped me make the art move!

It was decorated in little smiley-face suns and flowers, a few cute drawings of snakes or butterflies, and on the blank side of the parchment was a richly detailed drawing Zoey had done; there were trees and flowers she'd made to sway in the breeze despite being very cartoony in appearance. There was a picture of a lake with simple childishly drawn mer-people, some of which were swimming while another was half out of the water and waving and smiling at anyone who saw the drawing. A dragon flew over the lake, chasing what looked like Draco Malfoy on a broom. The little Draco was silently screaming, his broomstick tail on fire.

There was more. Snakes slithered in the grass, butterflies flapped their wings flying around. Every now and then a pair of dragonflies zipped through the image. A snail was sitting on a mushroom-shaped stool eating cake from a table that looked like a flat-topped mushroom. The snail even had a bib on and was using a fork, and was smiling. A yellow smiling sun sat in the sky bouncing up and down like it was dancing to some unheard music, while puffy white clouds drifted by, and birds flew around through the clouds and the trees.

She rolled up the parchment and sent it to Sirius with Hedwig.

~

After sending the letter, Zoey was still bored. To entertain herself, she started crawling around behind the various cats in the Griffindor common room, trying in vain to sneak up on them like a prowling cat on the hunt. She could almost swear Crookshanks had rolled his eyes at her when she tried it on him, but unlike the others he didn't run away. Just sat there, looking annoyed as she rolled over on her back and batted at him like she was a cat herself. It even included Zoey lifting her legs partway up in the air like a cat asking for belly scritches. (Luckily she had on shorts under her skirt.) She even purred and meowed realistically enough that one of the other cats came to see where the crying kitten was. It was very annoyed when it saw the sounds were just coming from a human.

It was when she was in the middle of playing with a large ball of yarn she'd conjured for this purpose, getting very much into the “kitten” role, that it happened. The ball of yarn quadrupled in size, frightening her. She ran off, and ran right into Crookshanks... who was also huge. Or was he?

She looked at her hands, but they were paws. She'd become a cat! She bounded up the stairs as best she could with her little kitten body (which occasionally had her hanging from the tops of steps by her forelegs in a funny way) and into her bedroom, where she climbed on the bed with her claws to look at herself in the mirror.

The mirror showed her a tan kitten with black fur on its head that went down its back in a sort of pigtail shape. The scar was there, too, as a jagged white line of fur on her head. And of course, her eyes were the same; one blue, and one hazel.

“Mrow?” she said in surprise. It was, of course, a genuine meow.

Excited that she'd done it at last, she climbed off the bed and ran around in circles celebrating. She then left the room again and went to Ron's room to find him, but he wasn't there. She tried thinking how to find him, but she couldn't use the Marauder's Map without a wand and her voice, and she didn't want to change back yet. So she curled up on Ron's bed and waited.

When she woke up a few hours later, she was still a kitten. She'd woken up because Ron was coming in.

“Oy, little kitten, who do you belong to? Wait... why do you look familiar?”

She turned around and waved her cat butt at him, then turned back to face him and stuck her tongue out at him.

“Zoey? Did you lot finally figure out... the thing?”

The other boys came in then, and Ron picked her up.

“Someone's lost a kitten,” he said. “I'm gonna find out who it belongs to.”

“Okay, Ron.”

But of course, he didn't do that. He went, instead, to the Potter room and set Zoey down on the bed.

“So you gonna turn back now?”

Zoey rolled over on her back and exposed her belly to him.

Ron sighed. “Okay, I'll scratch your belly, if you're so keen on it. Then you need to turn back.”

He scratched her belly, and it was heavenly. She understood why cats liked this so much. When it was over, she got up and presented her head for him to scratch. Obligingly, he scratched her behind the ears. Then she got him to stroke her along her spine. The feeling when he got to her tail was so intense she got weak-kneed and fell over, meowing.

“Enough joking around, Zoey, if that really is you. God, if I find out you're just some random cat I'm talking to and not Zoey or one of the others, I'm gonna be so peeved.”

He picked her up and she took the opportunity to climb his robes and perch on his shoulder. Though it wasn't any taller than Al was when they were him, the fact she was so much smaller now made it seem like she was atop a skyscraper almost. She yowled in fright and nearly fell off, digging her claws into Ron and making him yowl too. But then she got back into position on his shoulder and licked his ear to apologize.

“Come on,” he said, sounding angry, “I'll take you to McGonagall. She can tell me for sure whether you're really a cat or not.”

McGonagall was just coming out of her office when Ron got there, as it was almost dinner time. (Ron, like the others, had gone in to get cleaned up for dinner after having been outside all day long.)

“Yes, Mr. Weasley, what do you want?” she asked.

“I, uh... look, can we talk in your office?”

She sighed. “I suppose so. Come on in. Let's make it quick, though.”

They went in, and she closed the door behind her.

“We won't be overheard, will we?”

“No, Mr. Weasley. I have spells on every inch of my office to keep out eavesdroppers. What is the problem?”

“Well, I just want you to tell me if this is really a cat or if it's an animagus. I couldn't find Crookshanks; I think he's in Hermione's room.”

“An animagus? Why do you---oh, never mind. I see why you're wondering.” She was looking at Zoey's lightning-shaped fur pattern, her eyes, and the weird pigtail-shaped coloration.

She turned into her cat animagus form, and Ron put Zoey down on the floor next to her. Zoey casually started cleaning herself with her tongue while McGonagall sniffed her.

Zoey felt something from McGonagall, a questioning sort of feeling. She sent one back. The two animagi then started a conversation in Cat.

'Smallest cat in multi-cat-one-cat?' McGonagall asked.

'Yes. Stiff tall teach-cat? Old-cat?'

'Yes. Punish-cat, too, if small tan-and-black cat remembers.'

Zoey rolled over on her back with her four legs in the air and said, 'Cute kitten. Punish-cat not hurt cute kitten?'

Ignoring that, McGonagall continued. 'I want you be bigger cat when I be that first; two-legged cat, so we can speak two-legged to two-legged.'

'No. I like being kitten. Two-leggeds scratch my belly and head. Two-leggeds stroke my spine. I like spine stroking. I fell over, it was so good.'

'Please be bigger small-cat now, or punish-cat will punish you and other cats in family.'

Zoey huffed. 'Stiff tall teach-cat is mean cat. No-fun cat. Not as mean as two-legged tall flying-mouse with smelly metal food-things with not-food in them, but mean-cat all the same.'

'Do the thing, kitten. Be bigger and two-legged. Now.'

'Yes, yes. I be big now.'

She got back up on her feet. There was a pause as she concentrated. Then she looked embarrassed. 'Kitten not know how be two-legged again. Teach-cat help?'

'Remember being two-legged. Remember tall. Remember grabby paws-not-paws. Remember fur-not-fur.'

Zoey blinked slowly at McGonagall, since this functioned like a nod in Cat, at least in this context, and tried again. In the process, she tried standing on her hind legs, and ended up 'talking' in Cat as she did.

'I tall not-as-fun two-legged. I say boring things in weird meows and eat medicine for food. I eat plants for food. No hunt. Silly big-eyed short two-leggeds feed me, and I make noises and light with a bit of tree. Boring boring boring talk talk talk. Not--'

With a POP, Zoey became human again and fell over.

“Yikes! Aww... now I'm sad.” She turned her head to look up at Ron. “Scritch my earsies? Stroke my spine?”

“No,” said Ron. “I'm going to dinner. Thank you, Professor.”

McGonagall returned to her human form as well. “You're welcome, Mr. Weasley. You're dismissed.”

Ron left the room and closed the door. Zoey was on her hands and knees rubbing her head against McGonagall's robes.

“Miss Potter, please stand up before you turn into a cat again.”

“Darn. You're no fun,” she said, getting up by grabbing the desk, briefly a bit wobbly, like she was trying to remember how to stand on two legs again.

“Miss Potter, unless you somehow managed to keep a mandrake leaf in your mouth for a month without talking, through meals, through the night as you slept, and through your transformations, I assume you did not become an animagus the normal way?”

“Right-a-rootie, Professor. I-- Wait, a whole month? They can't take it out at all?”

“That's correct.”

“What if they swallow it?”

“Then they have to start over again.”

“No wonder there's so few animagi. Wait, my dad and Sirius and the rat managed to do that? Wasn't it suspicious?”

“I have never asked how they managed it, but given that they were never silent for so much as a day, to my knowledge, I presume they either managed to do it without going mute, or else they did it during the summer. Now can you please tell me how you came to be an animagus?”

“Well, we've been trying for months and months, all year really and part of the summer, too. We have a book about it that Sirius gave us. We've become part-cat part-human hybrids before, but never gone full cat before. I was pretending to be a cat, playing, when it happened.”

“I see. Well, try it again, just to see if you can.”

Zoey once more got down on her hands and knees.

“Miss Potter, you will eventually have to learn how to do it from a standing position. Some of the benefits of being an animagus are quite lost on you if you have to go to that much work to change.”

Zoey stuck her tongue out. “Big tall cat no fun. Kitten---”

POP! She was a kitten again, looking just the same. She put her forepaws up on the desk, standing on two legs, and with another POP she turned human again.

“Well you're getting faster already. Just try to shake the cat mentality as much as possible so you don't change in front of the whole school.”

“Speaking of that, do I have to register?”

McGonagall thought about it a moment. “Normally I would say yes, but Dumbledore seems to think You-Know-Who is making a bid to come back to power, so I will do the uncharacteristic thing and tell you to keep this a secret. Obviously you can tell any friends who will help keep the secret, of course.”

“Good to know, tea-- er, Professor.”

“Good. Now go down to dinner before it's over. You are dismissed.”

Nodding, she skipped off down the hall whistling the tune of “Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat” from The Aristocats, all the way to the Great Hall. Once there, she sat down across from Ron and grinned toothily at him while she heaped food onto her plate.

Ron did a double-take on seeing her. When she raised her eyebrow quizzically, he spoke.

“Zoey, you lost a tooth!”

“Someone finally noticed! YAY!” She grinned again. “I didn't lose it. I left it out on purpose last time I became me. I think I look cuter with one missing tooth, don't you?”

Hermione turned to look at Zoey's new smile.

“Hmm... missing left-side lower lateral incisor, I'd say.” Hermione said. “And it looks like one of your upper central incisors on the same side is half as grown as the other.”

Ron goggled at her. “Ladderal what now? And how would you know what it's called anyway?”

Hermione sighed. “Lateral incisor. It's between the central incisor and the cuspid or canine tooth. And I know because my parents are dentists. They fix teeth for a living, Ronald. Remember?”

“Oh,” said Neville, who was nearby. “So that's what a dentist does?”

Sighing, Hermione squeezed the bridge of her nose, then went back to eating.

“Which one is the incisor?” Ron asked.

Swallowing, Hermione said, “The ones in front that cut your food.”

“Ah, okay. Well Zoey's right, I suppose; she does kinda look cuter that way. Which must mean she's up to something.”

“She's always up to something,” Hermione said. “She's Zoey.”

“Hey! I resemble that remark!” Zoey said, grinning.

~

That night, Zoey resisted the temptation to become a cat again, and instead spent time with Aqua out of her enclosure, laying on her belly pretending to be a snake while Aqua looked at her, expressing confusion.

'I smell mice,' Zoey said. 'I can feel their heat. I slither towards them.'

'Where? I smell no mice.'

'I'm playing pretend! Anyway, yes. I am a scaly hunter, sniffing mice as I slither on my belly. I flick my tongue and see their heat-picture in my mind--'

With a POP, she shrunk again. Confused, she tried looking at her paws, but there were none. She had no arms or legs.

'What's going on! Why can't I feel my limbs?'

When Aqua finished laughing in her snakey way, she said, 'Because you have become a snake. Same kind as I am.'

'How can I be a snake? I was a cat! My animal form is a kitten!'

'Well I assure you, you are a snake now. I would not lie about this.'

Zoey tried to get to the bed so she could see herself in the mirror, but she could hardly figure out how to move in this body. She felt constricted, like she was in a full body-bind, except she could kinda move, so more like a straight jacket? She strained harder against the constricted feeling.

POP! She'd wriggled so hard, struggled so hard against the snake form that she'd become human again. She had hands and hair and everything.

“Woah... I'm a multi-animal animagus!”

But as she thought about it, something didn't make sense. “I thought patronuses were also animagi forms? But none of us has a cat patronus, though Tier's is a jaguar. Nor a grass snake patronus either; closest there is Al's Runespoor patronus.”

She tried an experiment, this time pretending to be a raven, like her own patronus. She certainly had the personality for it, as ravens are clever tricksters just like Zoey. But try as she might, for almost an hour, she couldn't become a raven.

Trying another bird, she worked her way into the mentality of an owl. Within a minute, she became a snowy owl, like Hedwig.

“This is confusing,” she said when she was human again. “I can become a cat, a grass snake, and an owl, none of which are patronus forms for us, but not a raven, which is. Hmm...”

Next she tried a fox, but that was another dud. So was cuttlefish, and again jaguar was a dud. But when she tried a dog, she became a boarhound like Fang, rather than whatever kind of dog Sirius was. She tried other breeds of dog, and the only one she managed was bulldog, like Aunt Marge's dog Ripper. Thinking of breeds, she tried cat breeds, but could only become the one form of cat she'd already done.

Then she tried, just for kicks, to become a spider, and it worked. She had no idea what kind of spider she was, as she couldn't see herself, and Aqua wasn't able to identify it in any way that was useful to her.

“Why a spider? Why a dog and a cat? Why an owl, but not a raven?”

She tried becoming other sorts of owls, and managed several different species of owls, including the tiny scops owl like the one Sirius owned, and a long-eared owl like Ron's. She thought she recognized Javier's owl in one of the owl forms she managed, too.

“Well at least I can fly if I need to.”

She tried a bunch of other forms, including eagle, pigeon, rat, bat, mouse, and the boa constrictor she once spoke with in the zoo, but none of those worked either, though for some reason she managed to become a parakeet. The only species of snake she could become, out of those she knew enough to try, was grass snake.

Given the example of spider, she tried other creepy crawlies. House fly worked, as did mosquito, ladybug, grasshopper, butterfly, moth, walking stick, and ant. But centipede didn't work, nor did millipede. She couldn't become most of the specific types of spiders she knew about either, like Black Widow, Huntsman, or tarantula, but when she got to a mirror she thought it looked like she could become a Daddy Long-legs, which wasn't even technically a spider.

'I shall have to remember to only eat when I can see you in human form,' Aqua said to her. 'Or else I fear I'd probably eat you by mistake.'

She tried fish next, in the tub. Goldfish worked, but it was the only one that did. Octopus was a dud, too. Out of the water, other invertebrates that she could become (other than insects or spiders) included earthworm and snail, but nothing else she could think of.

Oh my goodness this is so frustrating, she thought at the others. Why some things and not others? Why a bloody snail or earthworm, but not a raven or a jaguar? Or even some kind of snake other than grass snake?

After a bit more experimenting, she found she could become a chicken, a cow, and a pig as well. Also a turkey, for some reason.

~I have something of an unusual idea,~ Chandra said to her.

What's that?

~First, can you be a toad?~

Zoey concentrated on being a toad, but nothing happened.

Now what?

~Now find Neville and ask him if you can hold Trevor.~

Shrugging, she left her room. She soon found Neville doing his homework in the common room and she saw Trevor sitting there on the table next to him.

“Heya Neville,” she said.

“Hi Zoey,” Neville said, distracted.

“Hey Neville?”

“What?”

“Could I hold Trevor for a moment? Chandra asked me to.”

Neville hesitated.

“I wouldn't hurt him. What kind of a monster do you think I am?”

“Well, okay,” he said, picking the toad up and putting it in her open hands.

“How do you know he's a boy toad?”

“Er... um... I guess I don't.”

She wasn't sure what was supposed to be happening. After about a minute, she got bored and handed Neville his toad again.

“What was that for, anyway?”

“No idea. Chandra will tell me when I get back upstairs. He's weird sometimes.”

Neville gave her A Look.

“Well I guess we're all weird but anyway, I'm off to find out what that was for.”

She ran back upstairs and closed the door behind her when she got to their room.

~Good. Now try to become a toad again.~

Sighing, she tried it again. Only, this time it worked. She shrunk down to a toad, hopped around a bit, and then became a human again.

“What the heckadoodly-doo?”

~It's animals we've touched, or felt the energy of. That was proof.~

But we've touched a rat before, and that one didn't work!

~Actually, we've touched a rat-form animagus, not an actual rat.~

So to turn into something, we have to have touched it before?

~I believe so. Make a list of the animals we cannot yet become, and we shall touch some examples of them later.~

I don't remember ever touching a cow or a pig or a turkey.

~I believe it may include animals we've eaten, or nearly eaten, since I joined the group.~

Oh. Well that's a bit awkward. What about a parakeet?

~Didn't our third-grade class have a pet parakeet?~

Oh right.

She then changed into an owl and started flying around the grounds for a few hours before coming back to go to bed, which was a lot of fun, though not as fun as flying on a broom. While she tried to get to sleep, she decided she would have to keep this ability a secret.

~

Dear Zoey and company,

Oh my, you really are a silly one. I laughed til I had to stop in order to breathe again, because of your letter!

Once more, I'm glad you're helping your friend. I don't know whether McGonagall patrols as a cat, but James and I sent her an enormous ball of yarn for Christmas one year, the look on her face was hilarious! Totally worth the detention! Just keep that in mind if you try to hug her when she's a cat.

I wouldn't report your friends for feeding thestrals, Zoey. But in the future you might want to keep information like that out of the letters, you never know who might intercept the owls.

Oh my. I don't know about animagi having babies in their animal forms, and I'm not sure I want to know. I also don't think you should ask McGonagall about her husband, she still mourns him.

I was born November 3rd, and no I do not hump the furniture, you dirty-minded little imp. Not that it's any of your business.

A doggie sweater would be a hilarious gift for me, no occasion required. The look on Remus's face when he saw me in it would be worth laughs for weeks. Get me one with little doggie bone patterns, maybe the name “Snuffles” embroidered on it. As to animagi and clothes, I honestly don't know. They come back when we turn human again, so I imagine they probably go somewhere, but then the question of where that mass goes when you transfigure stuff is something you'd have to ask McGonagall about. I understood just enough of the theory of transfiguration to become an animagus, and then Azkaban made me forget it because the dementors ate holes in my brain. I was always more adept at the practical side of transfiguration anyway.

I don't recommend messing with Peeves. He's all fun and games until you anger him sufficiently. I read that they once tried expelling him from the school centuries ago, and they had to evacuate the school, he caused so much bedlam as a result. So yeah, please don't do that. I mean I can always send you to Beaxbatons if you get expelled, but getting used to everyone speaking French could be difficult for you.

Not sure if your dream means Iliana wants to own her own motorbike or not, but she'd have to be 16 to get her license with the Muggle government. We can discuss it more if she's interested. Or leave it at that if it was just a silly dream. But she sounded pretty groovy-looking from your description.

No I will not tell you how to lock Snape out of his office, as hilarious as that would be. I'm hoping to keep you alive this year, remember? HA! :) Thanks for the information about smiley-faces! :)

If you do replace all of Dumbledore's shampoo with hair-removal potion, send me a picture of him bald, it would make my month. :) But yeah, don't be mean to Flitwick, he's cool.

You just mind your own business and don't try to hook either of us up with anyone, okay you little imp? I'm getting out of the house. Mostly into Muggle areas, but hey, if I married a Muggle my mother would catch fire from spinning so fast in her grave! HA! And yes I am ignoring your comments about Remus and I. I'm not entirely sure Remus has ever dated anyone or shown any interest at all. Not sure at all, given my memory issues.

By the way, I don't know how she'll take this, but Fangslaughter wants to talk to Hypatia about how she got past the wards. We haven't told him anything about her, not even her name or gender. She can refuse if she wants, but Fangslaughter says he'll pay her if she explains it to him. His initial offer is a thousand galleons, but he's willing to haggle. I'm not sure whether the knowledge is even worth that much, as I get the impression Hypatia is one of the few people in the world who can do that without a computer, and he says the Gringott's wards already ward against computers. Messes them up or something, I don't remember and honestly I wasn't paying a lot of attention when he started rambling on about the specifics.

I ran into someone at the Ministry the other day, a relative of both of us. Her name is Auror Tonks. She and her mother Andromeda Tonks nee Black are cousins to the both of us, you know how pureblood families are. She married a Muggleborn, Ted Tonks, and got disowned by the family. But after meeting Tonks (as Auror Nymphadora Tonks prefers to be called), I looked into it and apparently my mother only Exiled me, rather than officially disowning me, which expired with the mad old bat. I guess she was holding out hope her first born son would see the error of his ways. Makes sense, especially after my idiot brother got killed trying to leave the Death Eaters.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that I'm officially the last Black left in the family, officially a Lord and all. Annoying, but I'm gonna use it to make my mum spin in her grave by officially reinstating Andromeda and her family into the Black family. I was in the middle of the parchment-work when I got your owl. Wish I could've introduced you to them over the Easter holidays, but well, over the summer will have to do.

I'm actually a little leery of introducing Zoey to Dora, to be honest. They're so much alike it'd be a bit scary seeing them interact. But Zoey would get a kick out of Dora, not the least of which reasons is Dora is a metamorphmagus, means she can alter her appearance at will. It's a rare gift, something she's born with. But now I'm remembering you mentioned something about that in your first year, Madam Pomfrey thought you weren't one for some reason. I don't want to call her wrong, she knows more about Healing than I do, but honestly I think you lot must be some sort of metamorph. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out the odd aspects of your transformation ability was your whole multiplicity situation in your brain warping the metamorph powers in strange ways. After all, Tier can shapeshift, which is essentially the same thing as being a metamorph, and some of the others have shown the ability to alter their forms with some effort. It wouldn't necessarily explain your ability to pull things Inside, but sounds like a good hypothesis to me.

Oh yeah, I was in the Ministry because I was picking up a few things there related to my inheritance, like the keys and ward-codes to mum's old house. I don't give a fig about the house, might just pay to have it cleaned out and then sell it to be honest, I haven't really decided yet. I went to Gringott's after that for the rest of it, vault keys and the like, which is where I ran into Fangslaughter, if you were wondering.

I got off track there. The reason I mentioned I went to the Ministry was because among the things I got there from my inheritance was, well... I'm apparently a Lord now, with a Wizengamot seat. It's not really my thing, politics, but with Malfoy and others of his ilk helping make laws, I figured it was my duty to oppose those bastards.

Another thing: I found out you have a Wizengamot seat as well. Dumbledore had Dedalus Diggle as your proxy, voting under your name for Dumbledore. I've been reading into their voting record and I'm not sure I like most of it, and I think you'll feel the same. Dumbledore may be the bastion of the Light, but some of his political stances don't make sense, and he's a bit of a wimp, politically, to be honest. Reading the minutes of some of the more important sessions, he does a lot of mediating, which I guess he has to as Chief Warlock, but he does it a bit too much.

Like I said, his voting record is aggravating too. For one example, some horrible woman named Umbridge is working with Amos Diggory to spearhead some legislation that will make it nearly impossible for werewolves to get jobs. Honestly, it's like this woman wants the werewolves to feel so desperate they'll become violent just so she has an excuse to swoop in and exterminate the lot of them. I did some asking around, and she has a long history of being a very humanocentric evil bitch, which is really hypocritical of her, as she appears to look like a fat, bipedal toad. But she's Fudge's Undersecretary, which is something like the vice-minister I think, so she's gonna be a hard one to fight. But dammit, I owe it to Remus at least to stop that shite from passing if I can.

Sorry, got off track again. As your godfather, I'm able to change who the proxy for the Potter seat is, if you want me to. I'm not sure who to put there. I barely know Andromeda, but she seems nice. Pureblood Slytherin, but she married a Muggle-born, and she's a Healer. Or, well this was just a passing funny thought, but Xeno being the proxy would be funny as hell!

Well, there IS another option; it's a little unusual, but given you're the only remaining Potter, and you're 14, you could take the seat yourself when you turn 15. It would take you out of school a few days a month at least, something to keep in mind for that option.

Anyway, regardless of which option you go with, you should be informed on the issues with transcripts of the minutes, and other resources and information either way. After all, even with a proxy, they should be there to vote the way you'd want them to vote, since you're old enough to have informed opinions on these things. Like, it occurred to me when I remembered you telling me about Dobby, that maybe we could try to get something passed to protect house elves from being abused. Well more accurately, to punish people who get caught abusing their house elves. Currently they're considered property, their masters can legally do anything they want to them, even kill them, without legal repercussions.

I know this is a lot of stuff to dump on you, especially as we draw nearer to finding out what the Third Task is going to be, but take your time, discuss it among yourselves. Don't slack in your homework and keep on staying vigilant, we still don't know who put your names in that blasted cup.

PS = Gave Remus your love. He says to send you his love, too. So here it is: (Remus's love)

PPS = I love your art, Zoey, it's adorable! I'm putting it up on the wall across from the Floo, people will see it when they come into the house.

~

Dear Sirius,

Yeah, that's a lot alright. Gonna ignore most of it for now and get back to it later. For now, I'm just gonna say: “...a toad will cow you with a grin.” You know, from my cryptic prophecy? Seriously, a woman who looks like a toad, and is a huge bigot high up in the Ministry ranks? Maybe it's a leap, but I've got an intuition I'm right. I'm not sure why she'd be relevant to the prophecy I made, but 'to cow someone' means to frighten them into submission, and given who I was giving the prophecy to, apparently she and Trelawney will meet? Which makes no sense to me. Trelawney rarely leaves her room, and I can't think of a single reason why the person second only to the Minister of Magic himself would be having anything to do with that old fraud of a teacher. Could Umbridge be a Death Eater? Maybe Wraithy McMoldyPants wants, um... the you-know-what? Not sure how he'd manage that when I'm pretty sure she doesn't have the thing as far as I know, and he literally doesn't have a leg to stand on nor anyone on his side to bring back bring back his body to him to him, but well, McMoldyPants was never as smart as he seemed to think he was.

Anyway, it's late and I'm tired. Write you more later, Sirius!

All our love,
Alastair Potter and company

Endnotes: Okay, so I didn't make the conscious decision that Luna would be autistic until a couple days before starting this chapter, but clearly I've been subconsciously making her that way for a while now. There are signs all the way back to the chapter where we found out she has laugh attacks/giggle fits sometimes, a trait I borrowed from a fellow autistic friend of mine. Then there was her reaction to Honeyduke's and her dislike of Zonko's. So it's another case of my subconscious mind getting way ahead of my conscious mind. Anyway, I've already talked in the notes about thinking canon Luna is autistic, the case for this being overwhelming in my opinion, so I consider this to be an extension of that.

I regret not making the Potter collective autistic as well, because there are some interesting ways that autism and multiplicity interact strangely with one another that would've been neat to add to the story, but at this point the only members of the Potter collective who might be autistic are Chandra and Hypatia, and those were not done that way on purpose, I just tend to make my characters autistic by default the way non-autistic people make their characters not autistic by default. Write what you know, you know?

Despite Zoey's enthusiasm for Wolfstar (Sirius/Remus for the uninitiated), I haven't actually decided if that's where it's going or not. It's just, well... Molly Elizabeth, our inner 7 year old, was writing that letter in her writing style and it was her who was suddenly enthused about Wolfstar. :)

Got a bit behind on this because I've been working on an original work of mine that I'm really excited about, inspired by this fic among other things.

For some reason, in canon Harry's 4th year they didn't get out of school until July 2nd, giving them only a less than two month summer break, which is absurd seeing as they were out by June 19th the two years before, the next two years are unclear but looks about the same, if not earlier. So I'm having the Third Task be on June 10th so the end of term will be June 19th. So looks like the stuff with Crouch Senior will be on May 10th.

The music Luna is listening to in the Room of Requirement is fictional given the year, but based off Gary Stadler's stuff (especially the ones with Wendy Rule singing). It's not actually them because they didn't make music until 1996, but that's my inspiration (especially "Fairy Nightsongs"). And I'm sure they weren't the first people to make music like that, though that's just a guess really.



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